Will Modi government's 10 per cent reservation sop pacify ‘uneasy’ upper castes in Uttar Pradesh?
Political observers this move as BJP’s attempt to refurbish former PM Atal Bihari Vajpyee's legacy to reach out to the Brahmins who are the largest voting bloc in UP after Muslims and Jatavs.
LUCKNOW: Modi government’s move to provide 10 per cent quota to economically weaker sections is being seen as a bid by the ruling party to keep its conventional upper caste vote bank intact ahead of
2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In fact, the BJP has been concerned about the alienation of the upper caste, especially in politically vital Uttar Pradesh since Modi government passed an amendment bill to negate the alleged dilution of SC/ST Act, 1989, by the Supreme Court, last year.
There had been palpable unrest in core BJP constituency among the upper castes. The fact had been unnerving the BJP and the immediate fallout of the unease among upper caste voters was conspicuously
visible in the three state of Hindi heartland where the ruling party lost in the recently concluded assembly polls.
Moreover, the SP-BSP alliance had precipitated the situation for the saffron party which, on one hand, was faced with the challenge of keeping the Dalits in good humour, and on the other, had to placate
its annoyed upper caste voters.
An order passed by the Supreme Court earlier this year on the stringent bail provisions of Prevention of Atrocities Against Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes Act had spiralled into a political debate and uprising among Dalits.
The restlessness among upper castes had many voices. Brahmin face and veteran MP from Deoria, Kalraj Mishra had tweeted: “For maintaining the social harmony, SC/ST Act should not be misused. It's
the responsibility of all political parties, including that in power that the provisions of the Act should be
Even BJP MLA from Ballia, Surendra Singh was even more vocal. He had said: “There is a gross misuse of the Dalit Act to frame innocent people. If political parties are so keen to impress the Dalits
then why not make a Dalit PM for next 10 years.”
Many others within the BJP organisation were not willing to speak on this sensitive matter, but do accept that the conundrum it was. “It was a gamble played by BJP top leadership then. On the presumption that its upper caste dedicated vote won’t drift away, the party went out to woo Dalits. But it failed to feel the pulse of upper caste voters who gave their verdict in three state of Hindi belt,” said a senior BJP leader requesting anonymity.
Political observers also see a link between the BJP’s attempt to refurbish former PM Atal Bihari Vajpyee's legacy to reach out to the Brahmins who are the largest voting bloc in UP after Muslims and Jatavs. Besides, at the state level, BJP was planning to pacify the upper castes voters by taking some steps.
According to highly placed sources, the state government was set to accommodate upper caste members in public corporations and government enterprises. It was also contemplating to nominates hundreds of corporators in local bodies from upper castes.
Caste wise distribution of population in Uttar Pradesh as per 2011 census
- Total population : Over 22 crore
- Upper castes: 18-20%
- Brahimns: 10 per cent
- Thakurs: 8 per cent
- Vishya (baniya): 2 per cent
- Tyagi & Bhumihars: 1.1 per cent
- OBCs: 40 per cent
- Dalits : 20.5%
- Muslims : 19.26 per cent
- Christians: 0.18 per cent